May offers more post Brexit assurances to EU nationals

Theresa May has vowed to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit ahead of a key summit of European leaders.

In a Facebook post, the prime minister insisted the application process for settled status would be “streamlined” and the cost “as low as possible”.

She said representatives of EU citizens will sit on a “user group” which will iron out any problems in the system.

The other 27 EU leaders will assess overall progress in the talks so far.

At a meeting on Friday, at which the UK will not be present, they are expected to conclude officially that “insufficient progress” has been made on the status of EU nationals in the UK and British expats on the continent – and other separation issues – to move onto the second phase of trade discussions.

European Council President Donald Tusk said there would be no “breakthrough” at the two-day summit, but progress could be achieved by the next scheduled meeting of EU leaders in December.

Before leaving for Brussels, Mrs May used her Facebook post to offer further assurances to the three million or so nationals of other EU countries living in the UK and uncertain about their future after Brexit.

In her message, she said those who already had permanent residence would be able to “swap this” for settled status in as hassle-free a way as possible.

“I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented,” she wrote.

“People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.”

The process of applying for permanent residency, for which EU nationals are eligible after five years, has long been criticised as cumbersome and overly bureaucratic. At one point, it involved filling out an 85-page form. (Courtesy BBC)

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